Friday, April 1, 2016

A good story takes awhile

You can end up feeling helpless and sad for these kids and discouraged about the way their lives go in these small, depressed communities, living in trailers, surrounded by adults who are struggling just to get by, who are organizing their kids' lives around eligibility for SSI. It all feels like the individuals are stuck and that the problems are unsolvable. But poverty isn't inevitable. ...we know the investments in kids' early education, youth engagement, stability of parents' work and income make a difference.
~Cynthia M. Duncan

Poetry Monster wishes you a happy poetry month!

More poems today from Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia. (Here's a previous post featuring a Listen Here poet.)

First up, "Augury" by Ann Deagon. In a bio, Ann Deagon said that she didn’t begin writing until age forty “when that three-headed dog love death and poetry took me in its teeth and shook me.” Love that!

by Ann Deagon

Tonight my father cupped his hands and blew
into their hollow sphere and brought to life
the long wild resonant cry
of country boyhood, owl-haunted evenings
and the dark modulations of distant hounds,
fluttered his fingers throbbing into memory
those sobbing whistles hunting down the rails
my childhood dreaming in the restless city.

Read the rest here


Next we have "Long Story" by Maggie Anderson. Do read the whole thing! And check out the links below.

by Maggie Anderson

    To speak in a flat voice
    Is all that I can do.
    —James Wright, “Speak”

I need to tell you that I live in a small town
in West Virginia you would not know about.
It is one of the places I think of as home.
When I go for a walk, I take my basset hound
whose sad eyes and ungainliness always draw
a crowd of children. She tolerates anything
that seems to be affection, so she lets the kids
put scarves and ski caps on her head
until she starts to resemble the women who have to dress
from rummage sales in poverty’s mismatched polyester.

Read the rest here


The Appalachian Community Fund
Young Appalachian Musicians
Appalachian Studies Association
Appalachian Law Center
Appalachian Mountain Advocates
Renew Appalachia (Appalachian Transition)
Appalachian Voices


More poems:
Spellcheck by Anne Shelby
I Used to be a Teacup by Rita Sims Quillen

It's coming!

Amy at The Poem Farm has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Amy!


cb hanek said...

"...that three-headed dog love death and poetry took me in its teeth and shook me.” What a challenge and opportunity Ann Deagon has posited. Thank you for the reality that poetry exposes when the three-headed dog shakes us out of complacency. Although it's April Fools' Day, I'm battling fear today as a missionary priest (a musician-poet, in fact!) is in a remote African clinic-hospital suffering from bronchitis and malaria. Please pray for him and for all those, like the folks featured in the poems today, who aren't necessarily wildly laughing today. God bless you--and them!

Diane Mayr said...

I love the matter-of-factness of these poems that can also wring you dry. Thanks for the introduction to these women!

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater said...

You bring our community such richness, such a variety of powerful voices. Thank you for today's selections...and for your adorable Poetry Monster too. Happy Poetry Month! xo

Brenda Harsham said...

I love the voice in these Appalachian poems. Love, death and poetry. Three tarot card-like words that deal out our fortunes. Today's a poetry day for me. That dog has its teeth deep in my heart.

Laura Shovan said...

These two poems are powerful in such different ways, Tabatha. I like how the dog entered into each poem, a symbol of something primal in us.

Doraine Bennett said...

Such beautiful voices here. And I, too, love that "three-headed dog love death and poetry took me in its teeth and shook me.” If my daddy had been a poet, that's something he would have said.

Linda B said...

Wow, Tabatha, these are the kinds of stories that feel a bit like my growing up, those characters around town, some stores boarded up. We just didn't have the coal mine history, but a history of people moving away, no work to do in town anymore. I love "and if it has people in it, you have to swear/that it is true". I know that I've heard uncles say that some time, some where. Thank you for more of these wonderful poems, and thanks for that cute Poetry Monster, too!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

I was going to say something along the lines of what Diane said. (So now I guess I don't have to.) That long poem was, indeed, a treat. I enjoyed reading the interview afterwards as well. Thanks, Tabatha.

Violet Nesdoly said...

Thank you, Tabatha! I read the whole of Maggie Anderson's "Long Story" poem and her comments about it on How A Poem Happens. Revealing and instructive on several levels. Thanks for sharing this!

Mary Lee said...

"Long Story" is so many kinds of perfect. I read it once forward and once backwards to see how she knitted the parts together. How that basset hound could be in the same poem with a coal mine tragedy. The setting comes to life through her descriptions. I'll save this poem as a mentor -- so much to learn from her.

Robyn Hood Black said...

Adding my "wow" to those above; thank you for sharing these voices with us, Tabatha. (I loved the Edward Abbey quote, too!)

Liz Steinglass said...

Augury really speaks to me, especially the image of the father blowing into his hands, that and that three-headed dog. So interesting that she didn't start writing until 40. It's never too late to start.

Catherine said...

Both of these poems are so powerful. I love these lines from Augury: "...hand on with tenderness and dignity/our resonant art," and Long Story just breaks my heart.